Report on the Economic Outlook for sub-Saharan Africa by the International Monetary Fund (IMF)

Key information

4:00 pm to 5:00 pm
Russell Square: College Buildings
Khalili Lecture Theatre (KLT)
Event type
Event highlights

About this event

Panellists from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and SOAS will discuss a new report on the Economic Outlook for sub-Saharan Africa and its impact for the region.

Persistent global inflation and tighter monetary policies have led to higher borrowing costs for sub-Saharan African countries and have placed greater pressure on exchange rates. Indeed, no country has been able to issue a Eurobond since spring 2022.

The interest burden on public debt is rising, owing to a greater reliance on expensive market-based funding combined with a long-term decline in aid budgets. The lack of financing affects a region that is already struggling with elevated macroeconomic imbalances. Public debt and inflation are at levels not seen in decades, with double-digit inflation present in about half of the countries—eroding household purchasing power and striking at the most vulnerable. In this context, the economic recovery has been interrupted.

Growth in sub-Saharan Africa will decline to 3.6 percent this year. Amid a global slowdown, activity is expected to decelerate for a second year in a row. Still, this headline figure masks significant variation across the region. The funding squeeze will also impact the region’s longer-term outlook. A shortage of funding may force countries to reduce resources for critical development sectors like health, education, and infrastructure, weakening the region’s growth potential.

Event recording


Time Description
4:00pm - 4:05pm Welcoming remarks by Angelica Baschiera
4:05pm - 4:15pm Short Presentation by Wenjie Chen
4:15pm - 4:45pm Moderated discussion by Dr Arkebe Oqubay with Cathy Pattillo
4:45pm - 5:00pm Q&A
5:00pm Closing Remarks

About the speakers

Catherine Pattillo is Deputy Director of the African Department of the IMF, where she oversees the work of a number of country teams, capacity development among other roles. Prior to that, she served in the Fiscal Affairs Department where she was chief of division responsible for the IMF’s Fiscal Monitor.

Since joining the Fund from a position at Oxford University, she has worked in the Research Department and on countries in Africa and the Caribbean, and the Strategy, Policy and Review Department where she worked on low-income country issues, and emerging issues such as gender, inequality, and climate change. She has published widely in these areas. She received her Ph.D in Economics from Yale University.

Wenjie Chen is a Deputy Division Chief of the Regional Studies Division in the African Department as well as mission chief to Mali. She started her career as an Assistant Professor of International Business and International Affairs at the George Washington University. She joined the fund as a mid-career in 2014 in the African Department, where she worked on South Sudan, Eswatini and South Africa while also contributing to several Regional Economic Outlook chapters.

She then worked in the Research Department, where she co-authored and co-led chapters for the World Economic Outlook. She has also worked as a senior desk economist on China and participated in missions to Timor-Leste. Ms. Chen has published extensively on global value chains, trade competitiveness, market power, and China-Africa relations in academic and policy journals. She received her M.A. and Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Michigan and her B.A. in Economics and Mathematics from Lawrence University.

Discussant: Professor Arkebe Oqubay (PhD). British Academy Global Professor, SOAS University of London

Arkebe Oqubay has been at the centre of policymaking in Ethiopia’s economic transformation and industrialisation for over thirty years. He has served as board chair/vice chair of several leading public organisations, including Ethiopian Airlines, and on international advisory boards. He is a member of the Trade and Industrial Development Advisory Council of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), appointed by the African Union Commission.

He is the recipient of various awards, including the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star, presented by the Emperor of Japan for his contribution to Africa’s industrialisation. He champions Africa’s carbon-neutral industrialisation and green transformation in developing countries and beyond. He is the former mayor of Addis Ababa; during this time, he won the Best African Mayor of 2005 and was a finalist in the World Mayor Award 2005 for transforming the city. He was also Africa’s sole candidate for the Director General of the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), unanimously endorsed by the African Union.

Dr Arkebe is a British Academy Global Professor leading a pioneering research initiative on Africa’s greening of economic development. He is a Professor of Practice at SOAS University of London and the University of Johannesburg; an honorary Professor at Nelson Mandela School of Public Governance, the University of Cape Town; an ODI Distinguished Fellow at the London-based think tank Overseas Development Institute; and a distinguished visiting professor at Nanyang Technological University (Singapore) and Fudan University (Shanghai).

Chair: Angelica Baschiera, SOAS University of London


SOAS Centre of African Studies.